Smaller Toms Compared To Larger

k-train78

Member
It seems that more and more as I have gotten more serious about my drumming in the last couple years, the more I like smaller toms that "sing" as compared to larger toms/floor toms that "growl". I thinks it partially makes a setup mor ergonomic to transport if you are using alot of drums, and then just the more I develop as a drummer I really like drums that open up but can have deep fatness as well.

I recently had two toms up, a 10 and a 12, with two floors, 14 and a 16. But I just recently added in my 8 inch that I havent been using in forever, and I put it where my 10 was. So now I have an 8 and a 10 up, put my 12 and 14 down as rack floor toms, and put my 16 to my left side near my high hats. I like this setup so much now because I can play more Open Hand technique, and now i can really make my toms sing and play up to their individual potential. And my ergonomics are great now!

Im rambling on lol I was just excited with my most recent setup and if you have any interesting takes on a setup like this or if you have any other great ideas then toss em out!

*Sidenote: Ill get pictures of my setup real soon here!
 

720hours World Record

Senior Member
It seems that more and more as I have gotten more serious about my drumming in the last couple years, the more I like smaller toms that "sing" as compared to larger toms/floor toms that "growl". ..... So now I have an 8 and a 10 up, ....Im rambling on lol I was just excited with my most recent setup and if you have any interesting takes on a setup like this or if you have any other great ideas then toss em out!

*Sidenote: Ill get pictures of my setup real soon here!
I two just added an 8 inch to one of my sets (and have one on order also).. they do sing. I can't believe how low you can tune them with good heads on.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I came to the realization that I liked small drums a while ago. The 10" drum is my favorite. They just have such a definite note, they're so clean. Of course you need a nice big fat floor tom to balance it out, but kits where the smallest tom is a 12"....That's not my sound. I need a 10" tom, I find a ton of uses for those frequencies.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I like the way small toms sing too.

But there is also something very cool about a large floor tom.

So I've been using 10 and 12 rack toms with a 16" floor for years and years.

I wouldn't mind using my 8", but I don't want to go three rack toms.

I'm starting to think medium size toms are the problem, but I can't imagine going from small to very large without something in between.
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
I don't generally play my full kit, I prefer one up and one down; sometimes it is a 12" with a 16" and then sometimes a 10" and a 14". At one point I was getting such a dynamic and full sound from the smaller toms I would leave the other 2 at home. Never tried an 8" though but it would be cool to have with a go kit set up, I can convert the 16" in to a floor tom and there is an arm for a small tom, the 10" works great but I think that you may have convinced me to get an 8".
 

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
I like my 8-12 inch toms the best. Then again, I just can't seem to find a good tuning for my lower toms and bass, so...

Maybe one day I'll be able to make a floor tom sing.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
I agree. My toms are 8, 10, 12 and 14. I have moved to a four-piece now and I play the 10 and 14. Smaller toms have a clearer tone that carries farther.
 

Florian

Gold Member
my kit is 8/10/12/14/16 and I love all of em....there are times/gigs that I wont hit them all, depends on the situation.


F
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
I like a good range from small to large. My gig kit is 8, 10, 13, 16 (the 13" is a floor tom) and they all make some pretty nice notes. The hard part for some, especially where 14" through 18" drums are concerned is the temptation to tune them like bass drums. They are low toms...but not THAT low!

I found out in the studio not too long ago that a 16" floor tom that sounds like "BOIIINNGG" when you hear it off the floor, sounds nice and low when you are listening to the playback and everything is in context. John Bonham knew this. He had the largest toms available for his setup so he could CRANK them and still get a low tuning. Same with his bass drum.

The other nice thing for all of you Taye, Tama and DW players out there is that you can get 8s, 10s and 12s in short depths, so they pack pretty nicely too. You have to do these things when you drive an '86 Mazda hatchback, y'know!
 
Last edited:

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I've been having this feeling myself, lately. I'm going to try my 20, 14, 12 kit this week at band practice. It's an 8-10pc. group and I feel like my big, booming Reference drums (22, 12, 16) have been getting lost in the mix. The kick drum seems to be the worst...but you would think, intuitively, that larger drums would be more "present", right?

I tried tuning them all up into a higher range, and it helped. This is what lead me to want to try a smaller kit.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
I've been having this feeling myself, lately. I'm going to try my 20, 14, 12 kit this week at band practice. It's an 8-10pc. group and I feel like my big, booming Reference drums (22, 12, 16) have been getting lost in the mix. The kick drum seems to be the worst...but you would think, intuitively, that larger drums would be more "present", right?

I tried tuning them all up into a higher range, and it helped. This is what lead me to want to try a smaller kit.
I have noticed the same thing.
My smaller dimension drum kits do a better job of projecting that my standard size kit in a live mix.
They mic up better on the big stage also.
Small drums kick some serious butt!
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
I've been having this feeling myself, lately. I'm going to try my 20, 14, 12 kit this week at band practice. It's an 8-10pc. group and I feel like my big, booming Reference drums (22, 12, 16) have been getting lost in the mix. The kick drum seems to be the worst...but you would think, intuitively, that larger drums would be more "present", right?

I tried tuning them all up into a higher range, and it helped. This is what lead me to want to try a smaller kit.
I mostly play out with my 12/14/20 Downbeat. It has tone and punch, whereas my Super Classic (13/16/22) is louder, but doesn't pack quite the focused punch of the Downbeat.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Interesting thread. I'm still a newer drummer and I'm developing my tastes as to what I like and don't like. I play a 24" kick and for playing live I like tune it up a little higher, learned that Bonzo did this, found this video a few months ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAwLN7sFIE8

I find that tuning the kick up really helps it carry more. However I'm finding that I like my toms tuned nice and low. A fun idea that I wanted to try was using a set of 14 and 15" timbales as my rack toms and a 16 or 18" floor tom for the bottom and.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
For me it's about contrast and finding a space in the mix. I already have one drum that's low and matches up with the bass guitar. It sits sideways and gets hit with pedals. Really low floor toms invariably don't have the same punch and with little contrast to the kick, they disappear in the band mix. It seems like a 14" tom sits right in between the bass guitar and the comp instruments (guitar and keys) just above the bass. And a 10" tom also fits right in there at the other end. So there are three distinct voices that contrast and stand on their own.

I do have an 8" tom, but it seems to be most useful tuned up really high as a sort of timbale sound, so it will contrast with the 10.

A snare and two toms lets me do the intro to Brick House. :-D

More seriously, those two toms and the kick create plenty of opportunity for linear fills. If I tried to fill up the space in between, you would lose the sense of contrast between the voices of the linear fill. Lower toms would just get lost in contrast to the kick or get swamped by the bass guitar.

Prog drum solos, it's a whole different world. But people don't dance to prog drum solos. So I'll leave that to the folks who are good enough to do them and just go to their shows for my musician fix.
 

k-train78

Member
I like a good range from small to large. My gig kit is 8, 10, 13, 16 (the 13" is a floor tom) and they all make some pretty nice notes. The hard part for some, especially where 14" through 18" drums are concerned is the temptation to tune them like bass drums. They are low toms...but not THAT low!

I found out in the studio not too long ago that a 16" floor tom that sounds like "BOIIINNGG" when you hear it off the floor, sounds nice and low when you are listening to the playback and everything is in context. John Bonham knew this. He had the largest toms available for his setup so he could CRANK them and still get a low tuning. Same with his bass drum.

The other nice thing for all of you Taye, Tama and DW players out there is that you can get 8s, 10s and 12s in short depths, so they pack pretty nicely too. You have to do these things when you drive an '86 Mazda hatchback, y'know!
I agree with ya there on havin floor toms sounding like your kick! Maybe one thats close, but the rest gotta sing a bit! And interesting observation made there in the studio, youre definitely right on tunin your floors a bit higher when in studio. too low and the sound just gets lost in eq and compression and would sound too dead.

I like my 8-12 inch toms the best. Then again, I just can't seem to find a good tuning for my lower toms and bass, so...

Maybe one day I'll be able to make a floor tom sing.
Haha yeh those floor toms can be tricky but when you get it right on...its NICE! Dont get me wrong, I love nice deep toms. But seems like ergonomically and musically-small toms can kick some assssss ;)

I don't generally play my full kit, I prefer one up and one down; sometimes it is a 12" with a 16" and then sometimes a 10" and a 14". At one point I was getting such a dynamic and full sound from the smaller toms I would leave the other 2 at home. Never tried an 8" though but it would be cool to have with a go kit set up, I can convert the 16" in to a floor tom and there is an arm for a small tom, the 10" works great but I think that you may have convinced me to get an 8".
Its pretty wild how much dynamics you can get outta smaller toms. Light hit you get more open musical notes, and when struck hard/rim shot they can be big and cannon sounding! I def suggest tryin the 8' man...tune it high you can get bit of timbale sound out of it, low you still get a high pitch note but its nice and wet soundin ;)

I like the way small toms sing too.

But there is also something very cool about a large floor tom.

So I've been using 10 and 12 rack toms with a 16" floor for years and years.

I wouldn't mind using my 8", but I don't want to go three rack toms.

I'm starting to think medium size toms are the problem, but I can't imagine going from small to very large without something in between.
Word. If I had to shrink my kit down big time for easy traveling/touring, itd probably be 10, 12, and 16. Just the best of highs mids and lows.

I came to the realization that I liked small drums a while ago. The 10" drum is my favorite. They just have such a definite note, they're so clean. Of course you need a nice big fat floor tom to balance it out, but kits where the smallest tom is a 12"....That's not my sound. I need a 10" tom, I find a ton of uses for those frequencies.
10" def. my favorite too! The 8 is pretty sweet though. But I do still love a big 16 or 18 though if its tuned right lol. But then theres the takin up too much space issue...but you are right 12 just doesnt cut it for a "primary" floor tom. I do have my 12 for my further left floor tom....mine sound naturally more right when tuned lower than higher, so mine fits there pretty well!

For me it's about contrast and finding a space in the mix. I already have one drum that's low and matches up with the bass guitar. It sits sideways and gets hit with pedals. Really low floor toms invariably don't have the same punch and with little contrast to the kick, they disappear in the band mix. It seems like a 14" tom sits right in between the bass guitar and the comp instruments (guitar and keys) just above the bass. And a 10" tom also fits right in there at the other end. So there are three distinct voices that contrast and stand on their own.

I do have an 8" tom, but it seems to be most useful tuned up really high as a sort of timbale sound, so it will contrast with the 10.

A snare and two toms lets me do the intro to Brick House. :-D

More seriously, those two toms and the kick create plenty of opportunity for linear fills. If I tried to fill up the space in between, you would lose the sense of contrast between the voices of the linear fill. Lower toms would just get lost in contrast to the kick or get swamped by the bass guitar.

Prog drum solos, it's a whole different world. But people don't dance to prog drum solos. So I'll leave that to the folks who are good enough to do them and just go to their shows for my musician fix.
Gotta love those drum solos! ;) I hear ya though. Love that timbale sound!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
It seems that more and more as I have gotten more serious about my drumming in the last couple years, the more I like smaller toms that "sing" as compared to larger toms/floor toms that "growl". I thinks it partially makes a setup mor ergonomic to transport if you are using alot of drums, and then just the more I develop as a drummer I really like drums that open up but can have deep fatness as well.

I recently had two toms up, a 10 and a 12, with two floors, 14 and a 16. But I just recently added in my 8 inch that I havent been using in forever, and I put it where my 10 was. So now I have an 8 and a 10 up, put my 12 and 14 down as rack floor toms, and put my 16 to my left side near my high hats. I like this setup so much now because I can play more Open Hand technique, and now i can really make my toms sing and play up to their individual potential. And my ergonomics are great now!

Im rambling on lol I was just excited with my most recent setup and if you have any interesting takes on a setup like this or if you have any other great ideas then toss em out!

*Sidenote: Ill get pictures of my setup real soon here!
I'm a child of the 70s and grew up with the standard 12", 13", 16" toms. Or on a 4-piece I'd use a 13" and 16". I tried the 8", 10" thing when Dave Weckl hit, but I felt them too small. I just recently went to Tama Hyperdrive size 10" and 12" rack toms and love them. I have to stick with a 16" floor tom though. I do like my floors tuned to growl, and how could you play something like "Sing Sing Sing" on anything smaller than a 16" floor tom? I guess I'm nodding to tradition as far as that goes.

Congratulations on discovering a new way for yourself!
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
Well, my 8, 10, 12, 14, 20 kick setup has remained the same from day 1 to this day. The only change in that time is I've lost the 24" second kick & gone to a double pedal on the 20" (I do miss that kick contrast though). I played small toms when big was beautiful & small was regarded as puny in rock circles. Same thing goes for my snare. I was playing a 13" piccolo in the late 70's FFS!

My new recording/project kit will be the same sizes but somewhat radical on depths, but that's a thread for another day. I get all the contrast I need from my sizes. Tuning the 8" tom such that it produces a meaningful tone is an art, but worth the struggle IMO. Tune those smaller sizes right on the shell's pitch sweet spot, & you'll cut through just about any mix.
 

BassDriver

Silver Member
When found a discussion about smaller toms I thought it was about the current trend in drum manufacturers making toms much shallower than they were say...in the 80s.

...in the space of several decades toms went from be-bop sizes to power-size to fusion-size to short-stack size even all the way to piccolo.

...
I agree. My toms are 8, 10, 12 and 14. I have moved to a four-piece now and I play the 10 and 14. Smaller toms have a clearer tone that carries farther.
DMC, what I like about your set is that your square sized toms open up and sing really well while still retaining the depth "big" of square proportions...other deep toms I have heard sounded like drumming on boomy buckets.

My new recording/project kit will be the same sizes but somewhat radical on depths, but that's a thread for another day. I get all the contrast I need from my sizes. Tuning the 8" tom such that it produces a meaningful tone is an art, but worth the struggle IMO. Tune those smaller sizes right on the shell's pitch sweet spot, & you'll cut through just about any mix.
How radical are you going with depths? Deeper than wide? Maybe drums designed with accordance to the golden ratio? Piccolo sizes?
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I was turned on to high toms by Bruford's playing in the 70s. My very portable Rhythm Traveler has an 8, 10 and 12, but I don't use the 10 (sorry Larry). The 8" is tuned high for a bright sound and the 12" is tuned low so I have a deeper voice in the kit, apart from the kick.

I REALLY miss the wickedly fat 16" floor on my old Rogers kit. Riding the floor tom in rock tunes was one of my great pleasures back in the day ... tho I had to be careful not to create mud with the bassist ... and they are such a pain in the neck to lug around lol
 
Top